Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Hello, I am NEW - C5-C6/C6-C7 Herniation/New Diagnosis

Capt_LeeNogaCCapt_LeeNoga Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello, everyone...my name is Lee, I am 54 year old female, 100% disabled vet and on soc security disability for surgical complications NOT related to my neck.

Thank-you for allowing me to join your family. I am trying not to have a pity party, or feel sorry for myself. I battled back from other medical issues, I am active on the water as a inshore USCG licensed Captain, and love to scallop and shrimp. I run a successful shrimping community message board for Central Florida.

My story is like many who felt they were not taken serious by their Doctor's.

My story...

Had an 8 hour facial surgery and rib harvest in 2008, woke up with total right arm and shoulder paralysis & hot stinger arm on fire nerve pain. They said I screamed non-stop in recovery room over arm and never mentioned face pain. They kept pushing pain killers in my IV and then determined I needed sedated. Next day, they minimized it saying they must have moved me wrong and it will be fine in a day or so. Well a MRI later in 2008, I had suprascapular nerve death/damage. Took 6 months to be able to hold a hair dryer...I am right handed.

In 2010, installing outdoor window, that night and for next 3 months, my arm tingled and went to sleep for 90 seconds, and then pin and needles woke up and I was fine. These episodes were x2 an hour every hour for long time.

I did not tell my Dctor abut the arm going numb for 3 months because I felt they thought I was a dramatic female who whined. I felt this way because I was sent to Ortho summer of 2010 for steroid consideration. My primary did this for me back when she believed me...Ortho laid into me saying my MRI was fine, the bone cyst they saw was common and no reason to be followed by Ortho. He made me cry on drive home. From that day, primary Doc never continued with my shoulder work up. She probaly felt I was fine and lets save Humana some testing money....

I did my annual appt at VA [Yes, I have 2 medical insurance plans, one with Veterans and one with Medicare]. I told her I was compromised with Medicare Doc not taking my complaints serious after Ortho booted me out..so her response was why was a cervical MRI not ordered?

So, she did this and she called me with the results.

My dilemma, I do not want the VA handling my case, appts take months and months to get...and I am angry at Humana primary Doc which I see on the 24th and I cannot wait to share my VA MRI test results...*evil grin*.

Is there a chance I can do nothing? Just skate on the life and get along? I am on (8) oxycodone 5 mg tablets/plain with no tylenol in them-- for last 15 years for other issues.

I do not know what they mean...my anxiety cannot even think about doing epi shots in neck. Maybe I am just at the angry stage [non-acceptance stage] and not willing to "own" these results...this is why I am here...*sigh*.

In a perfect world, I do not want to be 'dinked' with and chased with needles, steroids and gut rot anti-inflammatories. But, I do not want to be paralyzed like I was in 2008, that is some scary stuff....thank god, I had a decent recover over 2 years.

Here are my MRI results.

Normal lordotic curve is preserved. There is hypertrophic posterior longitudinal ligament. There is minimal bulging of the disk at C5-C6 and prominent bulging herniation of disk material at C6-C7. This appears to be most prominent just to the left of midline into the left lateral recess. There is prominent herniation of disk material into the left paramedian area and into the left lateral recess at C6-C7. There appears to be considerable non-specific increased signal in the spinal cord on the T2 gradient echo series the etiology of which is undetermined. It is not seen on the T2 fast spin images.


Mild bulging of the disk to the left of midline and into the left lateral recess at C5-C6. There is herniation of disk material to the left of midline and into the left of lateral recess at C6-C7. Alteration in signal on some images in the spinal cord may be secondary to the compression of the thecal sac and spinal cord especially at C6-C7.

Clinical correlation is needed.


Shoulder MRI:

Subchondral cyst formation within humeral head particularly anteromedially which raises concern for subcoracoid impingement.

Is this the reason for my tingly arm episodes I endured for 3 months. If that be true, why would they stop, the cyst if impinging should make these episodes continue..so I believe it is my neck...


  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many here with cervical spine issues, including myself. The one thing we don't do is comment on MRI reports for the very reason the report says needs to be correlated with clinical findings.

    What your explaining with your arm issues sounds more like that of radicular pain, meaning it is away from the injured site. Have a look a dermatone map and see if the issues in your arm follow any of those pathways. It is always important to understand that imaging after the age of 25 will show issues within the spine, but the question is which areas are symptomatic. If I was in your shoes, I would make a complete list of the exact symptoms and what makes it worse or better. As far as the steriod injection many members here have found them helpful in resolving spine issues and avoided the knife. Keep in mind surgery is no magic bullet that it will solve the problem, not that I am saying you need surgery or trying to scare you either, if you do.

    Hopefully someone is going to set you up with a surgical consult, be it ortho or nuero. I would without a doubt get multiple opinions as to the course of treatment.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If there is anything I can do in the future don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and look forward to reading more of your post.
  • I have seen Ortho and they said wait for surgery until I cannot tolerate life with cord symptoms. They see "bad" outcomes all day long...and not to take the risk until I cannot tolerate life.

    I see NS April 4th. My biggest problem is my hands are number when I lay down and wake up in the morning. Only 3 fingers are totally numb, and half of arm, very wierd.

    Ortho talked about "Long Track" symptoms to watch for. I was paralyzed in right shoulder in 2008, took 1.5 years to regain. They now believe it came from my neck.

    Last Aug-Dec 2010, arm went tingle numb for 2 mins and then tingled back o being normal about 50 times a day. I am fine now, that cleared up.

    Ortho did say there is documented cases of herniated discs with cord involvement causing quadraplegic after being in car accident sustaining whiplash.

    THAT is scary--

    I am on fence, and do not know what to do. All severe episodes with paralysis cleared up over time...
  • Capt_Leenoga,

    Another hearty Welcome to Spine Health. Sorry your apparent nerve (or neck) issues brought you here, but you will find a great group for support, to vent to, to share with etc.

    I agree with Tamtam in that much of what you are describing sounds more cervical vs a shoulder issue. I had fusions just over a year apart at C5/6 then C6/7 and now C7/T1 has gone bad. If I sleep on my back (especially if flat), I awake with both arms numb! It takes a few minutes, but they slowly come back. Due to loss of another level, and issues in my prior fusions, I can only feel part of my middle finger and the top half of my thumb on the right hand - I am left handed.

    My Neurologist and too Neurosurgeon are more nervous about 'weakness' more then pain or numbness (in that order). Pronounced atrophy of muscles also get their attention. Do you have weakness or loss of muscle mass yet? Can you possibly get with an Orthopedist or Neurologist (not a surgeon) to do a full assessment? They are the troubleshooters, and the surgeons, well that is what they are, surgeons. The VA is a mess down here in South Florida too, hence I stay with BCBS - a lot less grief!

    With spine issues especially you really have to advocate for yourself. If it takes 2 doctors to figure this out or 20, you need to find that doctor. Your body knows something is wrong, and your brain is listening. I know it might feel like you're a patient similar to the show (have you watched it?) Mystery Diagnosis. Some folks on there have gone to up to 70 specialists to find the true answer! Hopefully none of us will ever have to go that far! (G)

    Again, sorry you are hurting, but like was said, it sounds more radicular from the spine than referred from a shoulder issue. Stay the fight, and take care of number one. Take care, and please let us know how it goes. Again, Welcome aboard!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I was told the same thing but my neurologist, too wait til i couldn't handle it anymore and now i feel like i waited too long. I had to fight just to see a surgeon and then when i finally did see him,he told me he'd do the operation but then i was put on his waiting list for a year.By the time i got my operation done i had nerve damage that hasn't resolved and spinal cord injury.Sometimes i think its a fine line between wait and don't wait.The doctors can say hold off as long as you can but there not in your shoes either.They can't feel what your living every day.Good luck and welcome to the site. :D
  • I feel better already. A light bulb went off in my head about the comment concerning "weakness" first concern, pain and numbing not as urgent. That stepped me over to the "No, I am not having surgery" side.

    But, I did have bouts with weakness, 3 years ago, I could not lift a hair dryer or pick up a soup can for months. I recovered 1.5 yrs later we thought I had shoulder problems. They suspect it was cervical causing shoulder probs. But, I am 95% recovered so does that count as "weakness" since I do have a history but I am in remission?

    I only have numbness in hands when I lay down, when I am active I am fine. I am a female and when I was using hammer drill installing window trim I set off my same right arm again. It had those 50 episodes a day of tingling that traveled all the way down to fingers and it ended in 2 minutes. This lasted 3 months and stopped. I have been 4 months without any symptoms.

    Since I have had positive episodes that resolved is that still consideration for surgery vs. a person who have had NONE ? I have had extreme weakness but not today, I have had paralysis and long road back as a right hander ..but I have none today. I have had numbing episodes but only upon awakening today.

    I am 54 years old, retired and on disability for non-related diseases. I am a 100% Vet but also have Medicare [outside insurance HMO kind] from Soc Security. So, I have VA and Humana.

    I am in great health and if I am hedging towards getting worse it makes sense to do it now while I am young and healthy. Seems the biggest risk I have is the quadraplegic threat if neck injured.

    I have pics of my MRI but I guess you cannot upload in this forum?

    I am prescribed #240 a month 5 mg plain with no tylenol oxycodone x8 pills a day for other reasons. I am a tough cookie, and am a scar adhesion former which worries me about this surgery.

    All my friends had successful outcomes and NO regrets having the surgery. They tell me the thoracic or lumbar people are more prone to bad outcomes.

    How can I have such a diseased ruptured disc with cord compression [via large spur] and inflammation [signal changes showed this] according to Ortho surgeon and not have more symptoms all the time.

    I am NOT in pain, and I am NOT miserable. I just had the heck scared out of me when I was totally paralyzed in my right arm and had to rehab 1.5 years. I had nose surgery with rib graft and woke up with no use of right arm. Doc's think that might have been when disc blew...

    I see N.S. Monday and don't feel I am sick enough to go but I do have a million questions to ask, thanks to this site.

    Just do not know if having had PAST problems carries any weight of consideration vs having current problems as of today.

    Thanks again for all you do for us!
  • With *my* NS it is if the weakness stays, so maybe you are okay in that department? Like you, if I didn't have the spine issues, overall I am fairly healthy...a wee younger 48 and a half, but I will say this.

    Can prior injuries cause problems later, you betcha!!! I crashed a helicopter in 85, and worked with acute pain until around 2002, then it moved to the chronic department. Our bodies don't forget is my opinion.

    I was a competitive gymnast for 11 years, Army basic training, air assault training, crashing a helicopter, and then almost 20 years in law enforcement (activity career), so YES our past experiences do cumulate over time. :)

    As far as MRI vs symptoms. Remember this, mid 20's you can show problems, but if it isn't on the nerves, you may not have symptoms. It all depends on "what" is affected, not how nasty or good an MRI shows.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks Brenda,

    I am 100% Vet, 10 years Navy and now a Boat Captain [female].

    I saw N.S. and he ordered EMG and Nerve conduction studies. I am not a surgical candidate as of now. I have to go downhill before they will operate. That does work for me, I am getting along for now and do not have unbearable pain [electric shocks] or weakness.

    Interesting tho, the paralysis I had on my right arm when I came out of nasal surgery was when the C6-C7 herniated in 2008 [N.S. told me this, this week]. My MRI suggests I may have had a small cord stroke at the time of the herniation. The MRI may have had an artifact tho but the area correlated with why my arm was paralyzed and took 1.5 years to recover.

    I saw the N.S. that worked on Dale Earnhart Sr. when he crashed at Daytona and died instantly. He came to ER DOA on life support.

    He said, "NO" to epidurals, did not say why, and Ortho consult said to do them. *sigh*.

    This wonderful forum is consistent with the N.S. The physical symptoms [weakness, numbness and pain] really have to be affecting quality of life before they will repair. That way a bad outcome really cannot be any worse than you were previous to surgery. I am getting along...and I do not want to risk feeling worse.

    Just because we have disc bulges or herniations, that does NOT mean surgery. The MRI does not buy you a ticket to the Operating Room. He said I could be fine today and miserable in a year, but we will cross thar bridge when we get there.

    I feel better. But OMG, getting 2 opinions were so conflicting....he called the spot on MRI inflammation and N.S. called it a small cord infarct possibly....

    I still have to go to pain management in May. They want me in muscle relaxers, and I fear the try this and try that...I already have oxycodone with no tylenol [VA issues these] for other issues, so I do not need more...

    Thanks for listening. I am gonna live my life, make no changes and at 54, do as I please...neither Ortho or NS gave me any resrictions.

    Hugs! Pain free days to you all!!!!!!!!!
  • I like your attitude, keep doing what you want/can do.
    Just wanted to comment on why they may not want to do epidurals. I've had numerous cervical blocks done with no relief. My OS finally explained the difference between cervical and lumbar blocks. With lumbar there is more space to put the needle in the correct spot and thus blocks are more effective.
    For cervical the do a more general area block and hope the steroids/numbing agent gets to the affected area. They used to do more precise blocks but he said to many people ended up with really bad outcomes and some even paralyzed.
    I'll stick with the lumbar blocks and hope at some point to get relief for my neck.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • You're a zillion percent correct that herniated disks alone aren't surgery indicators. The rest of the puzzle has to come together, x-rays, MRI, electrical study, maybe blood work, and your physical exam and assessment. People seem to focus on the MRI being the gold standard!!!

    I'm kind of afraid what my studies are going to show as I am losing more and more of my right arm, and the left arm is starting to get affected, not to mention my leg issues. The pain levels many times I can work around (I am retired now), but the weakness - for the first time, almost fell in the shower. That scared the snot out of me! I can't trust my right hand on the steering wheel by itself!

    The key is, and it looks like you bought the same set of keys as me, is how much is this stuff affecting you and your function day to day. Is it workable with your lifestyle? I am glad to see you see that, many don't!!

    As for shots, I agree in part with Davrunner with this additional caveat, the cord is "right there" in the cervical, and much of the lumbar is the cauda equina or horses tail, so there is less risk should they miss!! The rest of what he posted is pretty much what I was told.

    Please let us know how it goes. I should know if more surgery is on the table mid May. I pretty much think I know the answer, but I'm a mess! (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I hope you find relief soon. I have had a couple different types of shots in my neck over time - epidural and nerve block. For a number of years they provided a decent amount of relief - up to about 9 months. The pain management doc I went to said you could have up to 3 shots within a certain period, then you had to wait before trying it again. When one type no longer worked, another worked. The shots really were no big deal. It was at an outpatient surgi-center. With me, I got an IV, they gave something to help you relax. The doctor would numb the area, then do the shots. You went to "recovery" for about a half hour. You were required to have a ride home because of the sedative.

    Unfortunately I now will be having surgery in a couple of weeks.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • I hope you find relief soon. I have had a couple different types of shots in my neck over time - epidural and nerve block. For a number of years they provided a decent amount of relief - up to about 9 months. The pain management doc I went to said you could have up to 3 shots within a certain period, then you had to wait before trying it again. When one type no longer worked, another worked. The shots really were no big deal. It was at an outpatient surgi-center. With me, I got an IV, they gave something to help you relax. The doctor would numb the area, then do the shots. You went to "recovery" for about a half hour. You were required to have a ride home because of the sedative.

    Unfortunately I now will be having surgery in a couple of weeks.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Just a quick update.

    EMG and nerve conduction studies April 25th. They are recommending another MRI with contrast in 6 mnnths to look at the signal changes on T2.

    Ortho - Diagnosis inflammation as those changes
    NeuroSurg - Diagnosis poss small cord stroke

    How is that for conflicting opinions? LOL

    After much reading on this site. I have decided to complete all tests. I will NOT do the epidurals and I am NOT going to fixate and zone on this. It is real easy to make your disease your life.

    As a disabled vet for other reasons, I have learned to be grateful for what I can do, and NOT what I cannot do as a result of disease.

    My quality of life is awesome. The symptoms from my cervical area are nothing more than irritants. You know...they are like gnats buzzing my face. But, not bad enough to pull out the bug spray.

    It is easier to re-adjust my attitude than to risk surgery and be worse off 10 years down the road.

    My NS Doc's don't believe in the cord compression car accident your at risk for paralysis. There have been cases documented by they are very rare so they tell me. Ortho concurred with that school of thought and Neurosurg felt it was such a low risk and not a factor in determining surgery.

    Guess, I will be hanging out with you all for the next 10 years, huh? Conservative treatment/pain management only for this woman for now....

  • What did they say about the status of your nerves after the conduction study?

    "Ortho - Diagnosis inflammation as those changes
    NeuroSurg - Diagnosis poss small cord stroke"

    Maybe another opinion is in order? If you did have a stroke on the cord, not sure what they can do with that? Yeah dramatically different opinions. Eeek!

    I'm glad your not going to get the shots. I had one, it didn't help at all so I didn't have the other 2. After I did some research, I know they are off my list of things to have done to me anymore.

    I guess at this point the game plan then is to keep an eye on yourself for changes, but otherwise your going to "Soldier On?" Only you know what is best based on what is going on. As for your sticking around, I don't think anyone will have a problem with that!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Had EMG and nerve conduction studies down in both arms and hands. All results were normal.

    They think I am compressing my elbow nerve sleeping and causing the half of arm and 3 fingers to go numb.

    I am very grateful to know I have no pinched nerves from my cervical disc's. I just did not expect to get this clean bill of nerve health given the MRI report.

    Neuro Doc said the MRI gives to much info, and he was another one that said he could bring in a 100 people off the streets and do a cervical MRI and they would probably be worse than my report and not even know it.

    I found that an insensitive comment, it was like he minimized the whole disc disease. My primary used the same analogy and I fired the medicare primary off my health insurance 2 weeks ago. I have VA and medicare health insurance.

    That statement rubs me. Hello, this is happening to ME and not YOU.

    I am truly pleased for the normal results, and I am truly blessed to have no symptoms today.

    But sheesh, I had my share of symptoms with right arm paralysis in 2008 that took 1.5 years to rehab, I had 3 months of neuropathy after installing a window in the bad arm in 2010.

    So, their minimizing rubs me. But the outcome of the test is relieving. I am more confused then ever now.

    I don't think I make any sense in this post, I don't think I am saying what I am trying to say.

    I am upset, I apologize. That analogy just makes me hostile. I just did not expect the Neuro Doc to be cold.

    So blowing out your disc is a no biggie from what he is saying...

    In Feb, VA Doc calls and scares the heck out of me, I am pushed off to all these consults [Ortho and NS] and EMG tests, and this Neurologist guy today made me feel I was wasting his time.

    So, now I have 3 conflicting points of views from Ortho, Neurosurg and Neurology.

    It is amazing one can blow a disc out & bulge with others and have no long term problems from having done so.

    Weird. Neuro thinks MRI's are trouble-makers.

    I am so confused why they got all wound up when they got the MRI report just to be now "Oh, no big deal on the MRI findings, very common disc disease and very asymptomatic with most people"

    Anyone else find this weird? So, I guess I am diseased by MRI and normal if America was sampled and randomly tested.

    I give up.

  • Sadly I don't think the doctor was trying to be mean or cut you down. It is a true statement mainly because we all react differently to herniated disks. I've got a disk between my L2/3 that is squished out in 3 different directions, but my symptoms are more to the right than bilateral. Another example is when my C5/6 herniated, the hernia was small, but it was hitting the cord 'just right' and I was in major pain and having function issues.

    The EMG sounds like they may look at you having Cubital Tunnel. I had that in my right arm (I'm left handed) and they transposed my Ulnar at the elbow, and too in my hand. The Ulnar controls your pinkie and half of your ring finger.

    So far thanks to delays I developed Neuropathy in my right arm and both legs. I hate it! Surgery might reverse it, but since it's been over a year, most likely I am stuck with it. I'm glad yours only lasted 3 months, that is very good to hear.

    As to being angry. Fully understandable, and your post does make sense. I just don't think they are minimizing. They see the MRI, but their exam and the EMG doesn't show the cervical as being the problem. And many (not always) times if a disk is bulging, herniated etc., if it's not hitting nerves, it isn't generating pain if that makes sense.

    Have you tried going to a civilian Neurologist per chance? I hope you don't give up. I'm sure you've seen the TV show Mystery Diagnosis? Sometimes you have to go through a ton of doctors to find one that cares, knows his stuff, and figures out the puzzle. Support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Saw neurologist and he recommends micro discectomy.

    Drama continues, the mystery deepens. The VA back on Feb made an appt to pain management clinic and waited from Feb until today. The visit was rushed, no talking or sharing between Doc and me but he did exams and palpations of neck and spine. Maybe he read the chart ahead of time, dunno...he did not interact much with me.

    He does NOT think my problems are cervical, he thinks the boat was missed and ordered a thoracic MRI. He is thinking Thoracic Facet Outlet Syndrome. He palpated my spine and pressed real hard at different locations. I could have cared less until he hit a vertabrae that about buckled my knees. The facet in this one location is what prompted the MRI request.

    He said very little, mentioned NSAID/Motrin, and possible epidural but wants this MRI. I am already on oxycodone...gave me cervical/shoulder ice pack contraption/holder [pretty neat].

    My day was shot from that point. Whatever he pressed on made my upper back hurt all day, and I been on sofa doing TV marathon as a result. I got a 5K walk to do on Saturday and could not even think of doing treadmill at the gym tonight. Whatever he pressed on my spine wrecked my day.

    I still wake up couple times at night with part of may hands numb, I wake up on my back, and hands are on my chest..only happens at night. I cannot reproduce this during day when laying down and watching TV.

    Will keep you up to date. The impression I got from pain specialist/anesthesiologist is look beyond the obvious [meaning my neck MRI showed herniation at C6/C7 and bulge at C5/C6] he zoned into thoracic area and it will be interesting to see if this is the culprit despite a compelling cervical MRI.
Sign In or Register to comment.